Can I create merge documents?
We are continually asked why Sesame does not include a built-in word processor. The answer is rather simple. One of the two best word processors in the world Microsoft Word or WordPerfect is probably already installed on 99% of the computers our users will be sitting in front of. We did not want to compete with these fine products. We wanted to utilize their power and versatility to complement Sesame.
Almost anyone who works with a database manager needs a way to print merge letters, envelopes or mailing labels using the data in their records. We have already shown that Sesame has three ways of doing this:
- Free-Form Sesame reports.
- Printing-related programming commands.
- Sesame ODBC(Sesame Version 2.5.3 and earlier) with an external word processor.
All of these methods are powerful and available to Sesame users. They each have their strengths and weaknesses. Your choice depends on your needs and skill levels. Each will require some familiarization and practice.
It gets even easier
However, our potential customers have been asking for a really quick and easy way to perform mail merge operations from Sesame. We have it for you. No special functions, no programming, no additional drivers are required. Merge procedure # 4 (our favorite) is a simple delimited ASCII export.
Built into Sesames export facilities are several features that make this procedure fast, flexible, easy to accomplish, and compatible with both Microsoft Word and WordPerfect even better, in our opinion, than what you can do in Q&A. These features are:
- The ability to export data, on-the-fly, from a group of selected database
records, without leaving those records. (Not possible
- The ability to include in the export some or all of the fields in those records.
- The ability to automatically include a field name header record in the export file. (Not supported by
- The ability to include blank (empty) fields as true null or blank values. (Q&A does not do this.)
What does all this mean? Combining these Sesame export capabilities with the built-in text file merge capabilities of both Word and WordPerfect make creating a merge document from your Sesame database as easy as this:
- In Sesame, you retrieve and sort the records you want to include in your merge document or mailing
- Select Export from the Spec Window in the lower left corner of the screen. Click on the
fields you want to include in your letter, or simply click Set All.
- In the ASCII Export options screen that appears, click Field Name Header, then type in
a filename (its best to use a, txt filename extension) and location for
the ASCII export file. Leave all the other settings at their defaults
(comma separation, delimit strings, and double quote delimiter) and click
- Open Word or WordPerfect and use the programs Wizards or menus to create your merge letter, envelope, or labels, selecting your data source as Text Files (*.txt) and choosing the export file you just created in Sesame. Insert the merge fields in your document from the lists provided, and you are ready to print.
It is important to understand that this final step #4 needs to be performed only once for each combination of merge document/merge data file. Both word processors enable you to associate (link) a merge document (including an envelope or mailing label template) with your data source filename. This way, the next time open the same merge document, it will automatically connect with your Sesame export file, even when the database records included in that file have changed. In other words, you don't have to recreate the merge document each time you want to print the same merge letter, envelope or label. All that is required is that the structure of the associated merge data file along with its filename and location remain the same.
Both Word and WordPerfect have very good help and documentation on merging with external data from a text file. We can't go into this in detail because the steps vary somewhat between the two products, between different versions of the same product, and may additionally depend on the operating system you are using. Suffice it to say that the average user should be able to learn how to do a merge printing with a Sesame export file in either word processor in just a few minutes.
Its as easy as 1-2-3-4! Okay, we stretched it by one, but it really is simple and it brings all the power and versatility of the two word processing giants to your Sesame data. Do it just once and you will be amazed at how fast you can create and merge-print your information. If you save your merge document, you will be able to simply retrieve a different set of data, export it to the same filename, and print a new set of merge letters in a flash.
Our first attempt at a printing a merge letter using this procedure took no more than five minutes and most of that was in typing the body of the letter.